The Best Toner for Sensitive Skin That Won’t Cause Stinging or Redness

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We’re going to preface this by saying that toners are a nice addition to your skincare routine, but not a must have by any means. (Though we’re guessing that if you’re reading this, you’re looking for some recommendations, which we can definitely help you with.)

Before we get to shopping, we just want to note that if you’re in the market for a toner and you have sensitive skin, there is one ingredient to look out for and avoid at all costs: alcohol. All forms of it. As Rachel E. Maiman, a board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical in New York explained to us earlier this year, “Alcohol can strip the skin of the natural lipids it needs to support the barrier, which is one of the skin's main immune functions,” making it public enemy number one for those of us with easily irritated skin.

It’s also quite sneaky. ”Alcohols can appear in ingredient lists with any number of names, which can make it hard to recognize. Look for words like ethanol, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, benzyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol,” says Maiman.

Another common culprit for sensitive skin is fragrance, though this can vary a bit by person, so our recommendations below include both fragrance-free and lightly fragranced options. And if you’re apprehensive about introducing anything new to your routine, always do a patch test behind your ear before committing to the whole face.

OK, getting off our soap box now so we can get to the good stuff.

We Ask a Derm What’s the Difference Between Essence vs. Toner?

1. Cocokind Rosewater Facial Toner

The Fan Favorite

If you’ve spent any time on TikTok over the last year, you’ve probably come across Cocokind. The Internet darling hits all the marks between its chic, sustainable packaging, plant-focused ingredients and no-nonsense results. One of its classic products is the Rosewater Facial Toner, which has only two ingredients: 98 percent organic rose flower water and 2 percent radish root ferment filtrate (a natural preservative). Use the soothing spray morning, afternoon or night to refresh your skin or makeup as needed.

2. Versed Skincare Baby Cheeks Hydrating Milk Toner

Best Makeup Remover

This multipurpose toner is a good pick for anyone whose skin is as dry as it is sensitive. With algae extract, bamboo extract and coconut water, it removes all traces of makeup and restores the pH balance in your skin in a few swipes, leaving your cheeks feeling (almost) as soft as a newborn’s. Just make sure to give the bottle a quick shake before dispensing the milky formula onto a cotton round, which you can do by pressing down on the push-top applicator.

3. Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner

Best Skin Booster

Someone give these product namers (err marketing people?) a raise. “Supple preparation?” Why yes, we would love some supple preparation for our skin, thanks! This K-beauty staple features amino acids that reduce irritation and bring your skin’s pH level back to a happy equilibrium so it’s indeed supple and prepared for whatever serum or moisturizer goes on next.

4. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner

The Cult Classic

If you have sensitive skin, you’re likely already familiar with First Aid Beauty, a brand whose main objective was to serve solutions for stinging faces back when the aisles of Sephora were a little less abundant with choices. (Hard to believe such a time existed, right?) In addition to being alcohol- and fragrance- free, this soothing toner is “powered by oats,” which are nature’s gift to distressed skin. The brand’s signature colloidal oatmeal joins forces with oat milk, wild oats, a touch of honey and hyaluronic acid to soothe and smooth rough, reddened skin.

5. Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pha +bha Pore-tight Toner

Best Exfoliant

For a gentle, gradual glow, we love this alcohol-free toner that feels bouncy to the touch and uses polyhydroxy acid (PHA) and willow bark (a natural form of BHA) to unclog pores without causing any irritation. Watermelon extract and cactus water plump and hydrate skin, while imparting an enjoyably fruity scent.

6. Indie Lee Coq-10 Toner

The Clean Pick

Alcohol-free? Check. Fragrance-free? Ditto. You know what, it would be faster to just run through the ingredients this toner doesn’t include: parabens, phthalates, essential oils and an additional 1,300+ potentially harmful ingredients, as outlined on the site. Instead, it relies on aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, chamomile, and cucumber to leave your skin feeling oh so calm and oh so fresh every time you spritz or swipe it over your face.

7. Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Calming Toner

Pro Pick

Paula's Choice is a popular choice among many skincare aficionados—and for good reason. The products are straightforward in their claims, well-researched and reasonably priced. Its Skin Recovery Calming Toner is no exception; with a lightweight texture, the milky formula sinks in quickly and has an almost immediate calming effect on your skin thanks to all of the juicy lipids and antioxidants in it.

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